Nigeria Striking a Delicate Balance

A tough and spirited military leader is off to a promising start

As diplomats and VIPs assembled at Lagos' Tafawa Balewa Square for Nigeria's 25th Independence Day celebrations last October, a sudden downpour sent many notables scrambling for cover under the grandstand. Within moments, ordinary Nigerians in the bleachers were soaking wet. So was a bullish army officer striding across the parade grounds. Spurning an aide's offer of an umbrella, Major General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, 44, continued to inspect a military honor guard in the rain. The crowd roared its approval and gave a standing ovation to the new President of Africa's most populous nation.

That common touch has served Babangida well since...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!